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Graeme McDowell to be reunited with missing clubs after flight ordeal

By Adam McKendry

Graeme McDowell has revealed the story behind the club fiasco that caused him to miss Tuesday’s qualifying event at Royal Lytham and St Anne’s for The Open Championship.

Rathmore man McDowell’s clubs were misplaced by his airline as he travelled from Paris to Manchester for the event, meaning his chances of making the third Major of the year have decreased.

McDowell now has to be one of the top three players not yet qualified for The Open at this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin or at next week’s Scottish Open to earn a place at Carnoustie.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph just after arriving at Ballyliffin, McDowell revealed: “I went down to St Anne’s and played my practice round and prepared but I just couldn’t get a straight answer out of Air France.

I’d try anything to play in The Open.

“I knew my clubs were in Charles de Gaulle, I just couldn’t get a straight answer as to where they were and whether they could get them to me by this morning.

“Thanks to the joys of social media, Air France got back to me this morning, which was 24 hours after I contacted them which was disappointing. Like I say, they look busy, they seem to have a bit of a baggage handling crisis going on in Paris right now, so I just got caught in a storm.

“Fortunately I got to speak to the right people today, Air France’s London office called me and they were able to physically find my bag for me. I believe it’s going to be on a plane tonight to Dublin, it’s going to arrive around 10 o’clock in Dublin tonight and a courier service is going to bring them up here in time for my Pro-am time tomorrow morning.

“It’s one of those things. In hindsight, I should have flown private. In hindsight, I should have drove! There was a perfectly fine direct flight heading from Paris to Manchester, I wasn’t in a mad rush, tried to do the sensible thing and of course in hindsight, it’s 20/20."

If this had been my last chance saloon... I would have tried.

Air France has confirmed McDowell will be reunited with his clubs later on Tuesday.

“Obviously it’s created a lot of traction on social media," continued the golfer, "I got on there looking for help from Air France, I wasn’t trying to create a big deal about things but obviously with the Open qualifier today it gained a bit of traction and I think a lot of people were upset I withdrew today, they couldn’t understand why I didn’t get another set of clubs and try and qualify.

“If this had been my last chance saloon today, if there weren’t three spots available this weekend and three spots available next week in Scotland then of course I would have tried.

“I’d try anything to play in The Open, but with this week ahead of me I felt playing 36 holes at St Anne’s today with another set of clubs and in tough conditions with only three spots up for grabs, I just didn’t think the odds were in my favour.

“The sensible thing was to get over here, build myself a set of backup clubs just in case - this was before I knew today that hopefully I’ll have my clubs in my possession tomorrow morning - and hopefully all will end well and I’ll be ready to go for the Irish Open.”

McDowell will play nine holes tonight with a backup set of clubs before playing in tomorrow’s pro-am at 7.30am.

In a statement Air France added: "Air France confirms that Mr McDowell’s golf bag has been located at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and will be flown to Dublin this evening, in line with the passenger’s wishes. The company regrets the inconvenience faced by Mr McDowell in Manchester and remains committed to improving our processes to ensure the best customer care."

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